In a recent article, Rare Books: What makes them rare, we mentioned the nine reasons a book may become rare and in demand,with a high monetary value. One of the nine reasons mentioned was Scarcity. Scarcity is the factor that has driven the value to the book, ‘’Hebrew is Greek’’ by Joseph Ezekiel Yahuda, to high values.
For about 30 years, the genius Jewish researcher Joseph Ezekiel Yahuda compared 3 languages: Jewish, Arabic and Ancient Greek Homeric. Finally, in the year 1982, in London UK, he published a 680-page book titled ’’ Hebrew is Greek’’. Suprisingly, most of the copies of this book have mysteriously disappeared. They disappeared from bookstores and most libraries, leaving only very few copies available. This scarcity gives the book the prospect to have increasing value as the years pass. It should be noted that in 2009 the book’s value was about 500 USD while today, two years later, the value of this book on the Amazon online bookstore is currently 1500 USD.
The brilliant Joseph Ezekiel Yahuda, was born in Jerusalem in 1900. He was a Jewish lawyer who practiced in London, as well as a freelance author, and a teacher of linguistics of Hebrew at the Judaic school of Tangiers. He was a Jew by nationality and religion, who was well versed in the Old Testament, the ancient and modern Jewish language, half of the Koran, the ancient and modern Arabic language, and French, English and Latin.
After becoming familiar with the Greek language, Yahuda learned the ancient Homeric Greek. He then decided to start research to compare the relationship between the Hebrew, Arabic and ancient Greek languages. His research took him about 30 years, as he compared the three languages from many aspects and in many ways. Finally in 1982 he published in London a 680-page book called ‘’Hebrew is Greek’’. (Becket Publications Oxford, 1982, ISBN 0-7289-0013-0). It should be noted that in the book he proves that Arabic is also Greek, but this is not reflected in the title, by economy.
The foreword of the book is by the Professor Saul Levin, of the Ancient languages of the University of New York. In his foreword Dr Levin states that in Yahuda’s book there is overwhelming evidence which proves that Hebrew, actually Biblical Hebrew, is camouflaged Greek. He goes on to say that their difference is merely found in the pronunciation of the languages. In this book, there are many examples which prove how the Jewish words are linked with Greek words. It is also stated that the Jewish, Christian and Islamic civilizations are the three pillars of modern civilization, which all have an ancient Greek foundation in common.
Why and how did the book disappear? The answer remains an enigma. If one searches the well known libraries of the world, the book may not be found. The Oxford library has one copy, but strangely enough, this copy has been on-loan for many years. If curiosity is aroused as to what the book is all about, electronic pdf versions of this book are available on the Internet. However for the real and original book one is required to pay dearly.
Joseph E. Yahuda died in Westcott, Surrey UK in 1995. In his lifetime, he wrote three other books besides “Hebrew is Greek”, but none of them have fetched a value as high as it. One never knows however, if and when these books will become expensive to own, as another factor for a book to be classified as rare depends on who has written it. There is potential therefore, as one of Yahuda’s books has certainly gained a great monetary value.